Influencer Marketing: Not All Unicorns and Pink Puffy Clouds!

By: Mary Ann Bautista

In my last post, I illustrated why and how influencer marketing can support an e-commerce brand.  And I readily admit that it’s not a “perfect” channel and I’m not kidding!  It’s not!  But there are methods and hacks to get around these challenges.  Let’s talk!  

The following are some of the trip-ups, challenges and frustrations that can come up when executing an influencer marketing program for your e-commerce brand. 

1. Finding the right Influencers.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of influencers out there.  In fact, some estimates put that number at over 40 million worldwide.  It can take hours and hours to manually search keywords on social media platforms to produce even a couple of names to reach out to.  So how do you find the right influencer for your e-commerce brand?  

The first step is to know yourself.  What space is your business in?  Are you already being mentioned on social media?  Who’s already talking about you?  Check your hashtags.  What about your competitors?  Certain tools will make a look-alike list for you.  Do you have any superfans that might enjoy working with you? There are tools for broader searches.  I won’t get into them here, but some are better than others.  One critical question you need to ask yourself, is “do I have the manpower and bandwidth to do this internally?” 

Next is to match your brand as closely as possible to the content and mission of the influencer.  And be sure to check that what they say is who they are, by looking deeply into their feeds.  Does it align with what they say and what you want?  Remember that posts can be taken down, so do a little off social media poking around too!  

2. Cat Herding.  It’s a funny way to describe the process of working with influencers, but honestly, it’s not far from the truth.  The truth is that not all influencers are professional people.  They often lack the common office and business sense that you as a marketing professional are used to.  Additionally, communicating, negotiating, tracking, setting expectations, vetting content, etc. takes a lot of time.  BDM has a workflow to identify, communicate with, compensate, and ultimately execute an influencer marketing program that would boggle your mind!  It’s detailed, tedious and can be very frustrating.  Not a task as a side gig for the office admin. Expertise in how to manage the process is critical.  We recommend you leave it to the professionals! 

3. $$$.  Yes, influencer programs can be expensive!  A large part of the problem is based on the wild, wild west nature of influencer marketing.  There are just not a lot of norms to drive pricing.  For example, Suzy Q has 50,000 followers and posts about gardening.  Her friend Joey down the street also has 50,000 followers and posts about football.  These two folks have truly nothing in common but will often set their pricing based on the highest-priced gig that either was contracted for.  Thanks a lot P&G, Versace and Tiffany!  It leaves the smaller to mid-sized e-commerce business out of the game, right?  We say NOT!  There are many different sizes of influencers:


Celeb/Mega               over 10 million followers  

Macro                        over 100,000 followers  

Micro                         over 10,000 followers  

Nano                          under 10,000 followers  


The good news is that the vast majority of influencers fall into the Micro and Nano space.  They are affordable and can potentially even be compensated with product or on a rev share basis.  And there is great data showing that the smaller influencers actually have more influence with their followers!  In fact, another reason to focus on smaller influencers is that the fraud in following numbers, is dramatically less.  With accounts that have over 50,000 followers, it is estimated that they have on average 20% fraudulent following numbers.  Save some bacon by sticking with the smaller guys….at least to start!  

4. Tracking and ROI.  The last area of challenge I am going to focus on is the justification for the effort.  How to measure ROI? Well, first it is critical that you know what your goals are.  Are you looking for a specific CPM impression?  % of engagement?  Or even an action, like a sale or a visit to your site?  Be 100% clear on what you hope to get out of this effort.  Most influencer programs are able to provide the majority of the above, but when it comes to sales, that’s very tricky.  However, there are ways to do it! 

5. What about the lasting impact?  Is there one?  Influencers typically remove their sponsored posts within 1-3 days.  They don’t want their feeds to be filled with advertisers’ content.  So, you paid a lot of $$$ for a blip on the radar.  Does it have to be that way?  The answer is NO and there are ways around that too!  If interested in understanding how, shoot me a note! 

Next week I will tackle the general subject of content.  How to get the best content, do you own it?  What can you do with it?  And how it can benefit your e-commerce business. 


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